Monday, March 28, 2016

The United States of Trump

Apparently Donald felt he wasn't getting fair treatment in the press and chose to sit down with the editorial board at the Washington Post for a wide ranging 60-minute interview that will leave you speechless.  The full transcript is attached so if you can't stand to look at him you can read what he had to say on what would be his policy as POTUS.

To WaPo's credit, they avoided editorial comment, pretty much going where Donald wanted to go on the subjects since he evaded any form of direct questioning on foreign and domestic policy.  He focused a lot on how he has been "treated very, very badly" in the press, including the Washington Post, and how he would "open up" the libel laws as President.  Obviously, this resulted in some consternation on the part of the WaPo editors, but they chose to give Trump room to expand on what he has said on campaign trail, rather than interject with their opinions.  They treated him much more fairly than he deserved.

It's been said so many times how scary this guy is, but more scary is how he has managed to convince one-third of the GOP electorate that he is the best nominee the Republicans have.  I suppose it is a reflection of the anger in the party and they see Trump as their voice.  When pressed on the violence that has occurred at his rallies, he takes no responsibility, claiming it is the work of professional agitators.  He attempted to distance himself from his more extreme supporters, but offered no witty response to what happened in Fayetteville when one of his supporters sucker punched a black protester being led out of the rally.  All Trump could say is that the protester probably gave the guy a finger and the guy hit him.

Suffice it to say, Trump has no foreign policy.  When pressed he said he wasn't going to show his hand on the campaign trail.  He felt that unpredictability was his strong suit and criticized Obama for telling in advance what he was going to do like sending 50 special forces soldiers to Syria.  Trump claimed it was putting a target on their backs.  It's not like Obama signaled to the world his raid on the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad, much to the chagrin of Pakistan.

When asked about NATO, he felt other countries should pull more of their own weight.  He felt the US was contributing 100's of billions of dollars to these countries in military aid.  When told that other countries contribute significantly to NATO he shifted to boots on the ground.  When asked about Ukraine, he said "I don't see other people doing much about it," writing it off as a European problem.  One gets the sense he would like to do away with America's military commitment in Europe all together.

Surprisingly, not much came up about Putin, who he has shown both admiration and scorn for on the campaign trail.  He preferred to talk about ISIS, still promoting his "secret plan."  On Iran, he babbled about how he would have doubled down on sanctions to secure the release of the hostages before any nuclear deal.  It doesn't seem to matter that the hostages were released shortly after the nuclear deal was made, he still considers it a bad deal.

He tossed out names who would advise him on Foreign Policy, since apparently all he gets is what he reads on the Internet.  None of the names mean much in FP circles.  Two are energy and oil consultants.  One a retired US Lt. General who now works in the private defense sector.  The fourth a so-called terrorism expert for Fox News.  The most contentious is "the Honorable Joe Schmitz," a former inspector general at the DoD and executive with Blackwater Worldwide, which has since changed its name to Academi in an effort to shed its association with its notorious activities in Iraq. It appears Trump pulled these names literally out of his hat.

This  suits a man who has run an entire campaign by playing it as it goes.  Over the past year a routine has emerged, much like a stand-up comic at the improv putting together a monologue from the pieces that work on his audience.  You don't get the impression that Trump has actually sat down with anyone to discuss foreign or domestic policy to any extent, hence his position that he should keep his plans under his belt to be pulled out as the situation arises.  It is enough to sound tough on the campaign trail.  I'm surprised he hasn't enlisted the support of Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris, although Chuck, aka Walker, Texas Ranger, is backing Ted.

The interview was enough to give anyone shudders who read it.  He has since sat down with the New York Times, adding little new to what he said to the Washington Post.  He continued to stress how he would put America first, essentially putting his name on the Bush Doctrine, even if he felt "our presidents" (lumping Bush and Obama together) should have just chilled out on the beach 15 years ago rather than launch these wars in the Middle East.

Is this the man you want to see President?

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